James Dean Poster


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Overview (5)

Date of Birth 8 February 1931Marion, Indiana, USA
Date of Death 30 September 1955Cholame, California, USA  (road accident)
Birth NameJames Byron Dean
Nicknames Jimmy Dean
"One-Speed Dean"
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (2)

James Byron Dean was born February 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana, to Mildred Marie (Wilson) and Winton A. Dean, a farmer turned dental technician. His mother died when Dean was nine, and he was subsequently raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana. After grade school, he moved to New York to pursue his dream of acting. He received rave reviews for his work as the blackmailing Arab boy in the New York production of Gide's "The Immoralist", good enough to earn him a trip to Hollywood. His early film efforts were strictly bit parts: a sailor in the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis overly frantic musical comedy Sailor Beware (1952); a GI in Samuel Fuller's moody study of a platoon in the Korean War, Fixed Bayonets! (1951) and a youth in the Piper Laurie-Rock Hudson comedy Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952).

He had major roles in only three movies. In the Elia Kazan production of John Steinbeck's East of Eden (1955) he played Caleb, the "bad" brother who couldn't force affection from his stiff-necked father. His true starring role, the one which fixed his image forever in American culture, was that of the brooding red-jacketed teenager Jim Stark in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause (1955). George Stevens' filming of Edna Ferber's Giant (1956), in which he played the non-conforming cowhand Jett Rink who strikes it rich when he discovers oil, was just coming to a close when Dean, driving his Porsche Spyder race car, collided with another car while on the road near Cholame, California on September 30, 1955. He had received a speeding ticket just two hours before. James Dean was killed almost immediately from the impact from a broken neck. He was 24. His very brief career, violent death and highly publicized funeral transformed him into a cult object of apparently timeless fascination.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

James Dean was an American actor. He is a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as troubled teenager Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) and surly ranch hand Jett Rink in Giant (1956).

His first television appearance was in a Pepsi Cola television commercial.

Dean's premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status. He became the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and remains the only actor to have had two posthumous acting nominations.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Pedro Borges

Trade Mark (6)

Frequently played angry youths
Squinty, sleepy blue eyes
Light brown hair greased back
Impulsive emotional acting style
Known for playing well-meaning but deeply troubled characters
The red jacket, white T-shirt and blue jeans from Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Trivia (110)

Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#42) (1995).
Ranked #33 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
The famous Failure Analysis Associates, from Menlo Park, California, reconstructed and recreated all details of the accident at the same approximate time on September 30 and have concluded that James Dean was travelling 55 to 56 mph when the fateful accident occurred, thereby proving he had not been speeding, as rumor had it.
Most of his so-called affairs with various starlets were made up by the Warner Brothers public relations. He did have love affairs with Pier Angeli and Liz Sheridan.
He also worked as a "stunt tester" on the game show Beat the Clock (1950), testing the safety of the stunts that some of the studio audience members would later perform. However, he proved so agile at completing the stunts that his results could not be used to set time limits for contestants to complete them. So he was reluctantly released.
Following his untimely death, he was interred at Park Cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana, which is nearly 2,300 miles from where he perished in his fatal car crash on the intersection leading to Cholame, California.
Reportedly, Dean was very much in love with Pier Angeli and they planned to marry, but her mother blocked the union because Dean was not Catholic and she helped arrange Pier's marriage to Vic Damone. Before she committed suicide, Pier wrote that Dean was the only man she had ever really loved.
Briefly studied dance with Katherine Dunham.
Won the Bloom Award as "Best Newcomer" for early Broadway work in "The Immoralist".
He was issued a speeding ticket only two hours and fifteen minutes before his fatal accident.
He is the subject of the songs "James Dean" by Eagles and "Mr. James Dean" by Hilary Duff. He is mentioned in the lyrics of many other songs, including "Rock On" by David Essex, "Electrolite" by R.E.M., "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp, "Vogue" by Madonna, "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel, "Forever" by Skid Row, "American Pie" by Don McLean, "Speechless" by Lady Gaga, "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed, "Rather Die Young" by Beyoncé Knowles, "Choke On This" by Senses Fail, "Blue Jeans" by Lana Del Rey, "Style" by Taylor Swift and "Ghost Town" by Adam Lambert.
Was the first actor to receive an Academy Award nomination posthumously, for his role in East of Eden (1955). However, he did not win.
Grandson of Charles Dean and Emma Dean.
Nephew of Ortense Winslow (sister of his father) and Marcus Winslow.
Cousin of Marcus Winslow Jr.
Only actor in history to receive more than one Oscar nomination posthumously.
Pictured on a 32¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, originally issued on Monday, June 24, 1996.
Pledged Sigma Nu fraternity but dropped out of college before being initiated.
As promotion for Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Dean filmed an interview with actor Gig Young for the "Behind the Camera" segment of the ABC series "Warner Bros. Presents" in July 1955. Dean told Young, "I used to fly around quite a bit, you know, I took a lot of unnecessary chances on the highway.... Now when I drive on the highway, I'm extra cautious." When asked if he had advice for young drivers, Dean concluded the interview, "Take it easy driving. The life you might save might be mine." Dean died soon afterward and the interview was never aired.
Donald Turnupseed, the driver of the other car involved in Dean's accident, died of cancer in 1995. Turnupseed could not swerve out of the way of Dean's Porsche Spyder, but he successfully swerved journalists who frequently pestered him for interviews about the accident.
He is one of several famous and tragic figures from history to be featured on the sleeve artwork of the album "Clutching at Straws" by rock band Marillion (released in 1987).
East of Eden (1955) was the only one of the three movies in which he had major roles to be released while he was alive.
One of only five male actors to be posthumously nominated for an Academy Award as best actor in a leading role. The others were Spencer Tracy, Peter Finch, Massimo Troisi and Heath Ledger.
Contrary to popular belief, Dean's middle name was not taken from Lord Byron, but from a relative, "Byron" Dean.
During the filming of Giant (1956), he and Rock Hudson did not get along. This tension heightened their onscreen clashes. However, according to Hudson's ex-wife Phyllis Gates, he cried after hearing the news of Dean's untimely death. Gates wrote, "Rock couldn't be reached. He was overcome by guilt and shame, almost as though he himself had killed James Dean.".
At the time of his untimely death, James Dean did not leave behind a will, so most of his possessions went to his father, Winton Dean, whose relationship with him was distant at best.
In her book "Dizzy and Jimmy", Liz Sheridan claims she and Dean were engaged.
Dean's acting breakthrough came on Broadway in the drama "See the Jaguar", despite its run of only four days.
He was voted the 22nd Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Attended and graduated from Santa Monica College, a California junior college that boasts its elite drama program. Went on to UCLA but left after appearing in one stage production, as Malcolm in "Macbeth", as he was anxious to get his acting career started.
According to "The Mutant King", David Dalton's 1974 biography of James Dean, the rumor that Dean was a masochist who liked to have cigarettes stubbed out on his naked body can be traced to a pencil sketch of his called "The Human Ashtray". The sketch featured a human body, in the guise of an ashtray, with many cigarette stubs in it. Dalton speculates that the sketch has nothing to do with Dean's sexual proclivities but much to do with the fact that he was a heavy smoker.
Marlon Brando, in his 1994 autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me", says that Dean, who idolized him, based his acting on him and his lifestyle on what he thought Brando's lifestyle was.
Elia Kazan, in his 1988 autobiography "A Life", says that during the production of East of Eden (1955), he had to have Dean move into a bungalow near his on the Warner Brothers lot to keep an eye on him, so wild was his nightlife.
Director Elia Kazan did not believe that Dean would have been able to sustain the momentum of his career. He felt that Dean's career, had he lived, would have sputtered out, as he was not well-trained and relied too much on his instincts, as opposed to his idol Marlon Brando, who, contrary to what people believed, had been very well-trained by his acting teacher Stella Adler and relied on that training to create his characters.
His favorite book was "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. James Franco - who played Dean in the biopic James Dean (2001), voiced The Fox in the animated film adaptation of the book, The Little Prince (2015).
He was voted the 30th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere magazine.
Was named #18 greatest actor on the 50 Greatest Screen Legends list by the American Film Institute.
Loved playing practical jokes on friends and reading.
Had a fondness for auto racing and had purchased the 1955 Porsche Spyder sports car, one of only 90 made of that year model, planning to participate in the upcoming races in Salinas, California on October 1, 1955.
He was descended largely from early British settlers to America.
Received posthumous Oscar nominations for his his first and last ever screen performances: East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956).
Imitating Marlon Brando, he also bought a Triumph motorcycle. Instead of Brando's 650cc 6T Thunderbird model, which he used in the film The Wild One (1953), he bought the smaller 500cc TR5 Trophy model. This Triumph featured in a famous series of photographs by Phil Stern, the motorcycle itself being recovered, restored and currently displayed at the "James Dean Museum" in Fairmount, Indiana.
Lost his two front teeth in a motorcycle accident in his youth.
President Ronald Reagan referred to Dean as "America's Rebel".
His tastes in music were eclectic. He liked African Tribal music and Afro-Cuban music, as well as classical (Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky); jazz/blues (Billie Holiday) and pop (Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra). His favourite song was Holiday's "When Your Lover Has Gone" and his favourite album was Sinatra's "Songs for Young Lovers".
His first professional acting gig was in a Coca-Cola commercial, handing out bottles of Coke to teenagers who were riding a merry-go-round.
His final screen test for East of Eden (1955) was shot with Paul Newman, who also was in the final running for one of the roles. Originally, director Elia Kazan had considered casting Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift in the roles of the two brothers, but they were too old to play teenagers as they were both in the their 30s in 1954. Newman's age, 29, also put him at a disadvantage. Dean, 23 years old and Richard Davalos, aged 19, were cast as the fraternal twins.
At the time of his untimely death, Dean was signed to appear in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) at MGM and The Left Handed Gun (1958) at Warner Brothers. Both roles subsequently were taken by Paul Newman and helped make him a star. Newman's career may very well have been retarded if Dean had lived as, while still alive, they competed for the same roles (East of Eden (1955)).
Signed a nine-picture, $1-million deal with Warner Brothers before his untimely death. He did not live long enough to honor that deal.
Like his hero Marlon Brando (Dean had been separated from his own father as a child and was distant from him. Brando apparently served as a role model for Dean) Dean wanted to write. He told gossip columnist Hedda Hopper that writing was his supreme ambition.
According to Marlon Brando, Dean would often call him, leaving messages with Brando's answering service. Brando would sometimes listen, silently, as Dean instructed the service to have Brando call back. Brando, disturbed that Dean was copying his lifestyle (motorcycle, bongo drums) and acting techniques, did not return his calls. The two met at least three times: on the set of East of Eden (1955); on the set of Désirée (1954) and at a party, where Brando took Dean aside and told him he had emotional problems that required psychiatric attention.
While a struggling actor in the 1950s, he once lived at 19 West 68th Street, off Manhattan's Central Park West.
Was good friends with Martin Landau.
His performance as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) is ranked #43 on Premiere magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Just before his untimely death, his agent, Jane Deacy, negotiated a 9-picture deal over six years with Warner Brothers worth $900,000. Dean's next project was to be a television version for NBC of Emlyn Williams' play "The Corn is Green", in which he was to star with Judith Anderson. His next film was to be Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), a biopic of boxer Rocky Graziano, for which Warners were loaning him to MGM and in which he was replaced by Paul Newman. Newman also replaced him in the role of Billy the Kid in The Left Handed Gun (1958). Three other roles with which he was being linked were the leads in Gun for a Coward (1957), The Sea Wall (1957) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).
Was Oscar nominated in two-thirds of his films, a record which will probably never be bettered.
Known to have loved animals as he spoke fondly of being raised around cows, pigs and chickens when he was young. He also was given a Siamese kitten named Marcus as gift by Elizabeth Taylor.
Was terribly nearsighted and wore thick glasses when not on the screen.
Was biggest idol of Elvis Presley.
His closest and most intimate friend for the last five years of his life was William Bast.
Much like Dean himself was with Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley emulated and idolized Dean. He would talk to friends for hours about his reverence for Dean, and got into acting as a way of following in Dean's footsteps. He confessed to his friends and close ones that Dean had the acting career he always wanted.
His father inherited his estate, which was valued at the time of his death at $96,438.44 after taxes. The bulk of the estate came from his life insurance policy as well as $6,750 in insurance claims from his Porsche Spyder. His checking account had a balance of $3,256.48.
While filming The Swan (1956) in Hollywood, Alec Guinness he met James Dean, just days before the young actor's death. Sir Alec later recalled predicting that Dean would die in a car crash: when Dean showed Guinness his newly-bought Porsche, Guinness advised him to "Get rid of that car, or you'll be dead in a week!" Guinness unfortunately proved right.
At the time of his untimely death, he was signed to play Al Francis on the television series Playwrights '56 (1955) (episode "The Battler"). The role went instead to Paul Newman.
Rolf Weütherich, the German auto mechanic who was riding with Dean in the passenger seat during his fatal auto crash, was thrown from the car by the impact and received multiple injuries. After Dean's death, he fell into a depression from the trauma of the incident and made several suicide attempts. He died in Germany in 1981 in an auto accident similar to the one that James Dean died in.
Mentor and friends with Dennis Hopper.
One of only six actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance. The other five actors are: Orson Welles, Lawrence Tibbett, Alan Arkin, Paul Muni and Montgomery Clift.
According to Dennis Hopper, he once threatened to kill a director with a switchblade.
According to Elizabeth Taylor, Dean was molested consistently by a trusted clergy member at age 11 and in a state of having been bereft of his mother.
Former lover William Bast wrote a book about their relationship titled "Surviving James Dean".
Was very close friends with Elizabeth Taylor.
Lived in Los Angeles, California from the ages of six to nine before his mother's death.
He had originally majored in pre-Law but switched to Drama, which angered his father.
Was a mediocre student in high school although he was a very popular athlete.
He suffered from very erratic mood swings and it is believed that he may have had undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder.
He did a promo for Highway Safety on Warner Brothers Presents (1955), just prior to his untimely death. He was wearing his costume from Giant (1956). His last line, "The life you save could be mine.".
One version of how Dean acquired the nickname "Little Bastard" was that Warner Brothers stunt driver Bill Hickman , who was known as "Big Bastard", bestowed it on him. But another more vouched for version is that studio boss Jack Warner once referred to Dean as a "little bastard" after the young star had refused to give up his trailer parked on the temporary spot assigned it during production of East of Eden (1955).
In 1952 when Dean and two friends hitchhiked to Indiana, Clyde McCullough, catcher for the Major League Pittsburgh Pirates gave them a ride from the end of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Des Moines, where he was scheduled to play and exhibition game.
His headstone was stolen twice but recovered.
At the time of his untimely death, Dean was set to star in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) at MGM, a loan-out from his home studio Warner Brothers in exchange for Elizabeth Taylor's services in Dean's last film Giant (1956).
Actor James Whitmore, whose class Dean was attending recommended to the actor that he apply to the Actors Studio. Among his friends at the studio were Roddy McDowall, Vivian Nathan and David A. Stewart.
On the night Dean was killed, four of his co-stars: Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood, Nick Adams and Richard Davalos, were all having dinner together in New York. The conversation turned to Dean, his new Porsche, and speculation that his speeding would cause him to have an accident during the coming year.
His three well-known film characters in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956) share some odd similarities. The full name of all of his three roles are formed by eight letters (Jim Stark, Cal Trask and Jett Rink); all of them are finished with a 'K'; and two of them have a surname with the exact same letters (Stark and Trask).
Was a skilled painter and excelled in art class.
Dean said on numerous occasions that he did not expect to live past age 30.
Before his acting career took off, Dean would often sleep in his car once he could not afford rent.
Had an interest in bullfighting.
He was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1719 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
The character Phillip J. Fry on the animated comedy series Futurama (1999) is based on his look in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
Leonardo DiCaprio is said to have admired James Dean and mentioned that watching Dean's performance in East of Eden (1955) was one of the factors that influenced him to become an actor.
His fragrance of choice was Knize Ten.
Jack L. Warner forbade Dean to ride his Triumph 500cc TR5 motorcycle and his Porsch Spyder while under contract at Warner Brothers Studio. Jack Warner's concession to Dean was that Warner allowed Dean to race the Porsch Spyder on professional auto racing track meets. The Warner contract and the agreement, nevertheless, did not prevent Dean from driving the Triumph motorcycle and his "Little Bastard" Spyder in Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. That Friday morning on October 30th, the Porsch was to be mounted on a tow vehicle's car trailer transporting Dean's car and Dean and his pit crew team to the Salinas racing track. Dean had already decided to drive the Porsch himself, and the pit team crew were to follow him with the car trailer in tow. Vern Lanegrasse was one of the few Hollywoodites recognizing Dean driving, with his mechanic Rolf Weütherich sitting in the passenger seat, as Dean stopped in traffic at the Hollywood intersection of Fountain and Vine streets at 9:45 a.m. heading North.
He was originally cast as Joseph Dufresne in The Sea Wall (1957). After his death, the role went to Anthony Perkins.
He was considered for the role of Brick Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), which went to Paul Newman.
He was considered to star as Charles A. Lindbergh in The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), which went went to James Stewart.
He was originally cast as Steven W. Holte in The Cobweb (1955), which later went to John Kerr.
He turned down the lead role in The Egyptian (1954), which went to Edmund Purdom.
He was originally set to star in King Creole (1958). After his death, the film was retooled from a gritty urban drama to a vehicle for Elvis Presley.
He was offered the lead role in The Silver Chalice (1954), but he and his agent thought the script was poor and he passed on it. This became Paul Newman's film debut, to his great embarrassment. While shooting East of Eden (1955), Dean went over to visit Newman on the set of this film, where he met the love of his short life, Pier Angeli, Newman's co-star.
He was originally considered for the lead role of Curly in Oklahoma! (1955), which went to Gordon MacRae.
Many of Dean's friends at the time thought the silver Porsche 550 Spyder was too high-powered for him and, indeed, days before he died, Alec Guinness, who was in Hollywood filming The Swan (1956), had a premonition that he would die behind its wheel. Dean had bumped into Guinness at the Villa Capri, a local Hollywood celebrity hangout often frequented by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and the Hollywood celebrity-gentry. Dean was so proud of the car that he insisted upon showing the silver 550 Spyder to Guinness, where the race car was parked outside in front of the Villa Capri's street foyer entrance. Dean, a self-confessed speed freak, laughed off the suggestion. There was no way he could have known that Guinness's warning would become - chillingly - a reality.
In August 2005, Volo Auto Museum in Illinois offered a $1 million reward to anyone producing the missing Porsche Spyder 550 chassis. To date, no one has come forward with the car chassis body. To claim Volo Auto Museum's $1 million reward, as was suggested the reward figure may be too low, that the chassis owner could write his own check. First, the chassis has to be found. A French author recently penned an account in his book which again contradicts Barris' version of the car's ownership and handling after the crash. According to Robert Puyal in his book, "Behind the Wheel: The Great Automobile Aficionados", Dean's wreck was purchased by "the federal road safety services and used it for educational purposes during an exhibition tour. After the television show "Brad Meltzer's Lost History", which aired in 2014, a man contacted Volo Auto Museum with the claim that he knew where the car was. His tale is crazy, and sounds like the plot to a box office hit, but after a polygraph test his story was confirmed. He was six years old and present as his father and some other men put the cursed 550 Spyder behind a false wall in an undisclosed building somewhere in Washington State.
The interiors of East of Eden (1955) were all filmed on studio sound stage sets at the Warner Brothers Burbank Studio lot. During on set filming, portable star dressing rooms were parked adjacent exterior walls of the sound stages, near the stage's crew/cast entry door; positioned on a studio alley and/or street between the studio's sound stages. Dean, assigned one of these dressing rooms, actually lived, day and night, in the assigned dressing room trailer during the filming of this movie. Studio boss Jack L. Warner, told that Dean would not move out of his trailer when the studio wanted to move the dressing room rig, to relocate the dressing room trailer to another location, Warner shouted, "That little bastard better get out of that trailer... or else...".
The original California certificate of ownership for the Porsche 550 Spyder lists James Dean's address - 14611 Sutton Street, Sherman Oaks, California. Inquiries asking about James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder serial numbers and the vehicle VIN number result in only three numbers one needs to know; the race car was built before VIN numbers were assigned vehicles, therefore there is no VIN #; the trans-axle's serial number is #10046, was bought by Dr. Williams Eschrid of Burbank. The trans axle, found in 2001, appeared in Connecticut in the drive train of noted Porsche collector, Jack Stiles. He traced the serial number through Porsche records while assembling his Spyder for racing and learned it was from Dean's old car. The engine number is P90059, last seen in California shortly after the insurance company sold it to Troy McHenry, which has not been seen since. The automobile body serial number is #0055. The chassis-car body vanished in 1960 after being part of a Highway Traffic Safety Seminar Exhibit. After the accident, the engine was sold to Dr. Troy McHenry in Beverly Hills for use in his Lotus race car. The engine still belongs to the son of Dr. McHenry in California. Dr. Williams Eschrid of Burbank bought the trans axle for his race special. Both Doctors suffered serious crashes during a race in Pomona on October 22, 1956. Dr. McHenry's Lotus went off the road, hit a tree and he perished. Dr. Eschrid's car overturned on the track and he escaped with injuries. Neither Doctor had ever crashed before that meet. George Barris's estate still owns one of the doors from the wreck. It was on display at Volo Museum back in 2005.
The California State Route #46 highway near Cholame, the site of the Dean car crash has a roadside monument marking the crash site location. Since the 1955 accident, a new highway was relocated correcting the "V" intersection of the two intersecting route #46 (from Bakersfield to the California Coast San Simeon Highway #1) and #41 (Cholame to Fresno) roadways, moved northeast of the original roadway intersection crash site. The original actual crash site is located perpendicular to the monument in a far flung unmarked open field of tumbleweeds and broken up black asphalt debris.
James Dean, with time on his side during down times of filming, often, daily, frequented gay bars in mornings, afternoons and evenings in both Hollywood, Studio City and North Hollywood. Dean became a local "feature fixture" sitting on his commandeered bar stool at the end of the bar at North Hollywood's saloon "The Barn" where he would observe the clientèle action, a friend and a pal for the bar keep-tender's "saloon-barn" owner Eddie Klotz. The bar building had previously been a small volunteer theater for thespians and talented craft technicians to audition their talents. The front of the property had a large parking area for the patrons of the theater's performance schedule. Dean would usually arrive on his Triumph 500cc TR5 motorcycle, parked at the bar's main entrance.
As Dean's movie career began to "take off" in 1954, he became interested in developing an auto racing career. Dean originally purchased an MG after arriving in Hollywood from New York City; followed then by upgrading into two vehicles, a Triumph 500cc TR5 motorcycle and a white Porsche 356 Super Speedster, after filming East of Eden (1955). He started to race his Porsche 356-car, with the race car identification number "23f" painted in black on the doors, the hood and trunk bonnet, and his motorcycle. Just before filming began on Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Dean competed in his first professional race car rally event at the Palm Springs Road Races, held in Palm Springs, California, on March 26-27, 1955. Dean, competing in Production D Class, achieved first place in the novice class, and second at the main event. In May of that same year, Dean's raced in the Minter Field Bakersfield race, where Dean finished first in his class and third overall. During the Bakersfield event, Dean met racer and German Porsche mechanic Rolf Weutherick. Dean had hoped to compete in the Indianapolis 500, but was prevented due to his filming schedule. Dean's final race in the Porsche 356 Super Speedster occurred in Santa Barbara's Road Races on Memorial Day, May 30, 1955. Dean was unable to finish the rally due to a blown piston ending Dean's rally race participation. Dean dangerously liked speed. Jack L. Warner forbade Dean to ride his Triumph 500cc TR5 motorcycle and to drive his white Porsche 356 Super Speedster while under contract at Warner Brothers Studio. Warner barred him from all racing during the production of Giant (1956). Warner's concession to Dean was that Warner allowed Dean to only race the Porsche 356 Super Speedster on professional auto racing track meets. The Warner studio contract included insurance liability -- Warner's agreement with Dean, that he not drive the vehicles, nevertheless, did not prevent Dean from driving the Triumph motorcycle and his Porsche Speedster in Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. Dean's desire to enter the big car class in his next race prompted him to order a Bristol from an English dealer. Rolf Wutherlich met Dean by accident on the Hollywood streets with Dean exchanging information about his plan for the new race car acquisition. This was the class for cars with larger, more powerful engines. Rolf remembered that Porsche was bringing in a new 550 Spyder and it was at Competition Motors. Rolf told Jimmy about this car and that it might be just what he needed to make his dreams come true. The next day, Jimmy came to Competition Motors to look at the car. He drove it around the block and said he'd buy it. Dean commented that it was like 'taking hold of a thunderbolt.' Dean paid $7,000 for it and made it conditional on Rolf - to personally check and go over the Porsche 550 Spyder before each race Dean entered. Rolf agreed because he couldn't think of anything he would like better. Upon the completion of the feature film's principle photography on the Warner Brother's Studio sound stages, in September 1955, Dean replaced his "white" Porsche 356 Super Speedster with a new "silver" Porsche 550 Spyder. Dean had finished filming his scenes and the movie was in post-production giving Dean an open window to race again. Dean was scheduled to compete in a rally-racing event in Salinas, California. Accompanying the actor to the race event was film-stunt coordinator Bill Hickman, who had trained Dean in driving manoeuvres and race tricks; Life-Collier-Magazine photographer Sanford "Sandy" Roth; the German mechanic Rolf Weutherich, from the Porsche factory, who had maintained Dean's white Porsche 356 and now, his new silver Porsche 550 Spyder. On that uneventful Friday morning, September 30th, the Porsche Spyder was to be mounted behind Dean's white Ford (faux woody-town-car-station) wagon, which had an attached tow-car carrier-trailer for the 550 Spyder. Dean and Rolf devised a plan to drive - "to break it in" - since "Giant" was still in production at the time of purchase and insurance rules prevented Dean from racing. Dean's next race would actually be the first time he spent any driving of his new Porsche 550 - to gain some experience before the meet, driving the 550 from Hollywood to the Salinas airstrip track, convinced that it was a good plan. Dean now already to drive the silver Porsche himself, the crew team to follow as a caravan, with Hickman driving the Ford station wagon and attached car-carrier-trailer in tow. That Friday September 30th morning, NBC (Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street studio) TV Page staff division supervisor Vern Lanegrasse, one of the few and last Hollywoodites to recognize Dean driving with his mechanic Rolf Weütherich sitting in the passenger seat, as Dean was stopped in traffic at the Hollywood Ranch Market intersection of North Vine Street and Fountain Avenue, heading North. En route to Salinas, both Dean and Hickman, South of Bakersfield, were pursued, pulled over by highway patrol police officer Otie V. Hunter for speeding (near-100-mph) around 3:30 p.m. After Officer Hunter handed Hickman his speeding ticket, and then another one to Dean, Officer Hunter made his own personal examination of the new Porsche Spyder, lecturing Dean - "Slow down, you don't have to win the race to Salinas." After being stopped and ticketed by Officer Hunter, Dean and Weutherich in the silver Porsche and Hickman and Roth in the Ford station wagon continued on their way, agreeing to meet at a highway refueling point. While near Highway #466 and Highway #33, Dean spotted a gray Mercedes Benz. Dean pulled in to Blackwell's Corner garage to look at the Benz, driven by owner Lance Reventlow, son of Barbara Hutton, with Bruce Kessler, who told Dean that they had received speeding tickets in their Mercedes Benz coupe earlier in the day on the same Bakersfield highway stretch by the same highway patrol officer Otie V. Hunter. At Blackwell's Corners to wait for Hickman, Dean bought a coke. Arriving at Blackwell's Corner garage, Bill Hickman was perturbed that the sluggish Ford station wagon just couldn't keep up with the Porsche, and that the photographer Sandy Roth wanted to get some pictures of Dean driving the silver Porsche 550 Spyder on the road. Hickman warned Dean, not to drive too fast, adding that he could hardly see the Spyder because of its silver colour and low height. The Porsche actually seemed to blend in with the silvery gray highway around it. Dean spoke with Hickman and they agreed to wait up at Paso Robles for dinner. After a monotonous trail, two hours and 150 miles later, a long road curve at the crest of the straight narrow #466 highway's Westward downhill grade, desert flanking either side of the road-way, Dean rapidly accelerated, headed downhill on the long descent into the valley below, passing John R. White, who was buzzing down the highway ahead of Dean. John R. White also saw the white and black East-bound Ford coupe-sedan up ahead that was coming from the opposite direction, apparently to make a left turn to cut across Dean's path. The area was considered dangerous, because it harbored a notorious "black spot" - with a bright twilight sunset in Dean's eye view-horizon-perspective nearly blinding his sight. Around 5:15 p.m., Dean driving West-bound on Highway #466 (now called State Route #46) near Cholame when a 1950 Ford Tutor coupe painted white, with the top, side door-window belt fender line and trunk top-lid panel painted black, pulled out in front of them. Dean seeing the other car, told Weutherick, "That guy has to see us. he has to stop!" 23-year-old Donald Turnupseed, driving his white and black Ford Tutor, had been traveling East on Highway #466, his destiny to Fresno, planned turning onto Highway #4l; joining #466 at a V intersection with no stop sign nor turning left lane on the two lane country road. With twilight, viewing the approaching horizon, Turnupseed did not see Dean's low profile speeding "lil bastard silver Porsche bullet." Turnupseed was attempting to make a left turn onto Highway #41. Unfortunately, Turnupseed had already started to make his turn before he saw the roaring Porsche traveling quickly toward him. Turnupseed floored his Ford's brakes, the car continued to roll thirty feet onto the highway. Without time to turn, the resulting collision was swift and violent. The two cars smashed head-on. The collision with the Porsche was enough to send the 1,500 pound Spyder - flipping - 49 feet into the air, landing on the opposite side of the adjacent roadway fence line; the frail Porsche demolished, leaving it little more than a mangled mass of metal, so badly damaged that police officers at the accident scene described it as "looking like it exploded." The injuries among the three involved in the crash varied greatly. Turnupseed only received minor injuries from the accident; his Ford totaled with front end/engine damage. Dean cracked his head against the steering wheel crushing most of his skull. He was thrown backwards so hard his neck snapped. The head was almost severed from the body. Dean died instantly. Rolf Weutherich's head hit the dashboard and he was catapulted out of the car, lucky to be thrown from the Spyder convertible suffering serious head injuries, a jaw-bone broken and a left thigh-bone shattered-broken leg, surviving the crash. However, James Dean was killed, only 24-years-old. Dean's body had been force-pushed, trapped into the Porsche's passenger seat from the crash impact. The accident was witnessed by a number of passerby who stopped to help. A woman with nursing experience attended Dean detecting a weak pulse, but "death appeared to have been instantaneous." About an hour later, Dean died in route to the emergency room, pronounced dead of a broken neck and massive internal injuries on arrival at the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital at 6:20 p.m. PST. Dean's funeral was held on October 8, 1955, at the Fairmount Friends Church in Fairmount, Indiana. The coffin remained closed to conceal his mutilated corpse. An estimated 600 mourners were in attendance, while another 2400 fans gathered outside of the building during the grave site procession.
After the automobile accident, George Barris acquired the Dean Porsche car-wreckage sending the crunched metal frame on an extended exhibition for a "California Highway Traffic Driving Safety Seminar Exhibit" tour across the United States. After a lengthy touring and exhibition schedule, in New Orleans, the Porsche wreck was loaded on a rail-road-car for it's return to Los Angels. The railroad-car's side wooden doors were sealed, pad-locked, secured for the return trip. Upon arrival in the downtown Los Angeles railroad yard, unsealing the doors, the Porsche was not inside the railroad-car. An investigation followed with no solution to the mystery of the Porsche's theft and disappearance. The whereabouts of Dean's death-car '130' Porsche has never been solved. Discrepancies in accounts relating to the remains of Dean's Porsche have been made by George Barris - who said the race car was loaded onto a flat bed truck carriage in Miami, Florida, for return to his California shop. The theft of the Porsche car wreckage has never been solved.
Dean had known George Barris since Rebel Without a Cause (1955), as Barris supervised the famous 'chicken' race car scene and customized one of the hot rods in the film. Dean had purchased his new rare Porsche 550 Spyder, a serious low production race car. It was one of 90 made for competition purposes. You could call it a road car, but only die hard enthusiasts could love it on long trips. Dean's new "silver $7,000 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder" race-car with a red leather interior, had been acquired during Dean's stint on Giant (1956) - specialized by having the number "130" painted in a numerical black script on the passenger side doors, "130" painted black on both the front Porsche's nose hood and rear trunk engine-deck-hinged-bonnet above the engine grill air-grate. "Little Bastard", also painted in black script, was on the back rear-bottom bonnet beneath the engine air-grate of the silver Porsche - this was Dean's nickname given to him by both his studio boss Jack L. Warner and Bill Hickman, his driving teacher, an actor, stuntman, who Dean called "Big Bastard". Dean Jeffries, who rented a space at George Barris' Kustom Car shop in Compton, California, painted the specialized Porsche Spyder car's graphics. Dean Jeffries also painted two red racing stripes, matching the red leather upholstery, on the rear flanks of the chassis.
Of his three major films, East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956), he lived to see the release of only the first film. Dean died in an automobile accident on Friday, September 30, 1955, and on the day before his death, his "Eden" co-star Richard Davalos opened on Broadway, creating the role of Rodolpho in the original production of Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge", and the day after Dean's untimely death "Eden" co-star Lois Smith opened on Broadway in Sally Benson's play "The Young and Beautiful". Ironically, a few years after Dean's appearance in the film "East of Eden" - Walter McGinn, played Dean's film role of Caleb Trask in the 1968 premiere Broadway new musical adaptation of "Eden", - "Here's Where I Belong" - also died in a car accident (March 31, 1977, at age 40).

Personal Quotes (26)

Only the gentle are ever really strong.
Gratification comes in the doing, not in the results.
Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today.
An actor must interpret life and, in order to do so, must be willing to accept all the experiences life has to offer. In fact, he must seek out more of life than life puts at his feet. In the short span of his lifetime, an actor must learn all there is to know, experience all there is to experience, or approach that state as closely as possible. He must be superhuman in his efforts to store away in the core of his subconscious everything that he might be called upon to use in the expression of his art.
It was an accident, although I've been involved in some kind of theatrical function or other since I was a child: in school, music, athletics. To me, acting is the most logical way for people's neuroses to manifest themselves, in this great need we all have to express ourselves. To my way of thinking, an actor's course is set even before he's out of the cradle.
To grasp the full significance of life is the actor's duty; to interpret it his problem and to express it his dedication. Being an actor is the loneliest thing in the world. You are all alone with your concentration and imagination, and that's all you have. Being a good actor isn't easy. Being a man is even harder. I want to be both before I'm done.
Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn't hiss or boo me. I also became close to nature and am now able to appreciate the beauty with which this world is endowed.
[when told he was too short to be an actor] How can you measure acting in inches?
[to Hedda Hopper] Trust and belief are two prime considerations. You must not allow yourself to be opinionated. You must say, "Wait. Let me see". And above all, you must be honest with yourself.
When an actor plays a scene exactly the way a director orders, it isn't acting. It's following instructions. Anyone with the physical qualifications can do that. So the director's task is just that to direct, to point the way. Then the actor takes over. And he must be allowed the space, the freedom to express himself in the role. Without that space, an actor is no more than an unthinking robot with a chest-full of push-buttons.
If a man can bridge the gap between life and death... I mean, if he can live on after his death, then maybe he was a great man.
[on acting] You can do "Hamlet" while performing cartwheels... as long as the audience sees your eyes - you can make the performance real.
(When speaking to a friend) Death can't be considered, because if you're afraid to die there's no room in your life to make discoveries.
I think I am going to make it because on one hand I am like Clift saying help me and of the other hand I am Brando saying, "Screw you!", and somewhere in between is "James Dean".
I think the prime reason for existence, for living in this world, is discovery.
Being an actor is the loneliest thing in the world. You are all alone with your concentration and imagination, and that's all you have.
My purpose in life does not include a hankering to charm society.
The cinema is a very truthful medium because the camera doesn't let you get away with anything. On stage you can even loaf a little, if you're so inclined.
To me, acting is the most logical way for people's neuroses to manifest themselves.
[Being asked about his sexual orientation] No, I am not a homosexual. But, I'm also not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back.
[on the risk of racing cars] What better way to die? It's fast and clean and you go out in a blaze of glory!
The only greatness for man is immortality.
There is no way to be truly great in this world. We are all impaled on the crook of conditioning.
You can't show some far off idyllic conception of behavior if you want the kids to come and see the picture. You've got to show what it's really like, and try to reach them on their own grounds.
[on raising children and teenagers] I think the one thing this picture shows that's new is the psychological disproportion of the kids' demands on the parents. Parents are often at fault, but the kids have some work to do, too.
Being a good actor isn't easy. Being a man is even harder. I want to be both before I'm done.

Salary (3)

East of Eden (1955) $1,000 /week
Rebel Without a Cause (1955) $10,000
Giant (1956) $21,000 ($1500 per week)

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